The Bedside Book of Beasts Cover

The Bedside Book of Beasts
by Graeme Gibson

The term ‘beasts’ belongs properly to lions, leopards and tigers, wolves and foxes, dogs and monkeys, and all others (except snakes) which rage by mouth or with claws. They are called ‘beasts’ from the force with which they rage; and they are termed ‘wild’ because they are by nature used to freedom and they are motivated by their own will. They do indeed have freedom of will and they wander here and there, going as their spirit leads them.” —The Peterborough Bestiary (14th C.)

In a wonderfully diverse selection of writings and gorgeous illustrations, this stunning companion to The Bedside Book of Birds explores the relationship between predators and their prey.

The intricate, complex connection between the hunter and the hunted has defined animal life on earth throughout time. In The Bedside Book of Beasts, Graeme Gibson gathers breathtaking works of art and literature that capture the power, grace, and inventiveness of both predators and their natural prey.

The Bedside Book of Beasts presents myths, fables, poetry, and excerpts from nature and travel writing, journals, sacred texts, and works of fiction. Within these pages we encounter big cats, bears, wolves, and the small but voracious praying mantis, as well as works that bring to life the experience of more vulnerable prey. Portraits of such legendary evil beasts as the Minotaur, Grendel, and the biblical Leviathan add to the depth and breadth of the collection. An impressive array of art, both traditional and contemporary, as well as scientific, religious, and mythological drawings, paintings, and woodcuts make this volume an utterly unique gift for the holidays or any occasion.

Pictured at left is the cover of the United States and Canadian edition of The Bedside Book of Beasts. The US edition is published by Nan A. Talese and the Canadian edition by Doubleday Canada.

United Kingdom Edition

The UK edition of The Bedside Book of Beasts is available from Bloomsbury.

Conservation Initiative

Half the net royalties from the sale of The Bedside Book of Beasts will be donated to the Iranian Cheetah project and the Pelee Island Bird Observatory.

Iranian Cheetah Project
Wildlife Conservation Society (Canada)
Wildlife Conservation Society
The Pelee Island Bird Observatory


"Graeme Gibson’s latest book is a splendid compilation of artwork and literature about predators. A companion to 2005’s The Bedside Book of Birds, this new volume does what all good books should: it encourages readers not only to read (and reread) it, but also to seek out other books. Gibson provides an open door to the literary world of beasts – the big, beautiful ones that are sadly disappearing." —Quill & Quire (September 2009)

"Vivid writing, by authors as varied as Bruce Chatwin, Leo Tolstoy and Laurens van der post, with stunning images, explore the power and inventiveness of lions, tigers, bears and other alpha predators and their natural prey. A great book to give as a gift, if you can bear to part with it." —National Geographic GREEN Winter 2009-2010 (UK)

"[Gibson] not only accomplishes a spectacular feat of collecting and synthesis but also writes penetratingly about our animal selves; the 'long dynamic association between the great beasts and our gods, shamans, and Heroes'; the symbiosis of hunter and prey in the natural world; and humankind's radical altering of this ancient balance." —Booklist (October 15) USA

"Here's how to choose your friends and lovers: Do they like Graeme Gibson's Bedside Book of Beasts? Only the dull and meekly domestic among us could shrug off this romping, brilliant anthology of writings on beasts of all stripes." —(The Economist) More Intelligent Life

"Dip into this book right before bed and your dreams will be a little more animal, and therefore a little more human." —Toronto Globe and Mail


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Author Note

Read a note by Graeme Gibson

Author, Graeme Gibson
About Graeme Gibson
Graeme Gibson is the author of The Bedside Book of Birds, Five Legs, Perpetual Motion, and Gentleman Death. He is a past president of PEN Canada and the recipient of both the Harbourfront Festival Prize and the Toronto Arts Award, and is a member of the Order of Canada. Gibson has been a council member of World Wildlife Fund Canada and is chairman of the Pelee island Bird Observatory. He is a recipient of the Writers’ Trust Prize for Distinguished Contribution (2008) and is currently Joint Honorary President, with Margaret Atwood, of BirdLife International’s Rare Bird Club. He lives in Toronto.

Photo Credit: Dennis Minty Photo
Also by Graeme Gibson
  • Book jacket
  • Book jacket
  • Book jacket